From the Boston Globe
COMMUNITY SNAPSHOT
Dennis

Boston Globe, 6/13/2004

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The Dennis village bandstand gazebo at the intersection of Old Bass River Road and 6A.


Ocean front property at 45 Uncle Stephen's Road in West Dennis for 3.2 million. (Globe photos)

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Miles from Boston: 76
Population: 15,973
Median house price: $299,000
Tax rate: $4.87 per thousand
Transportation: Routes 6, 6A, and 28 all pass through town. Limited bus service through town. MBTA commuter rail about 40 minutes away in Kingston.
Best things: Beaches, lakes, civic pride, top-notch town dump.
Worst things: Exorbitant housing prices for anything near water, Route 28 sprawl.
MCAS: Dennis shares a regional school district with Yarmouth. The Dennis-Yarmouth district ranked 147 of 210 school districts in 2003, behind Falmouth (45), tied with Bourne, and ahead of Hull (179). Sixty-nine percent of 10th graders scored proficient or advanced in English, and 58 percent scored proficient or advanced in math.
Census facts: Median age is 49. There are 1,412 families with children under 18.
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DENNIS -- Four summers after his wife finally persuaded him to buy a vacation cottage in Dennis village, Peter Lomenzo brought his family east from Los Angeles for an August vacation -- and never went home.

"We looked at the wonder and simplicity of life here, and we realized how many benefits there would be for our family's life," said Lomenzo, whose wife, Elaine, had grown up spending summers in East Dennis. After deciding in 1996 to make the mid-Cape town their permanent home, Lomenzo moved his Maverick Management and Marketing business 3,000 miles east and opened a Coldwell Banker realty business with his wife.

Lomenzo also serves as chairman of the Dennis Old King's Highway Regional Historic District Commission, formed in 1973 to protect Route 6A from the strip-mall sprawl that has plagued the southside's Route 28. As both a newcomer and preservationist, Lomenzo epitomizes a pair of Dennis trends: The town continues to attract more and more summer visitors and permanent residents, while inspiring many organizations and volunteers to protect and improve the quality of life.

"I love this place -- it's in my soul -- and people are very, very interested in keeping it beautiful and preserving the historical integrity of the town," Lomenzo said.

Like all of Cape Cod, Dennis has faced relentless growth and development pressure. The town's year-round population has soared since 1970 from under 6,500 to 15,973, swelled by tens of thousands of vacationers in summer. Parts of Dennis Port, South Dennis, and West Dennis are as densely built out as many Boston suburbs. Those areas can offer houses for under $350,000; northside waterfront homes often fetch $2 million-plus.

For all of its growth, Dennis has also succeeded mightily in protecting land, including the vast Crowes Pasture along Quivett Creek in East Dennis and more than 370 acres overseen by the Dennis Conservation Trust. The Village Improvement Society and its allies are completing the conversion of a former Cumberland Farms gas station on Route 6A into a park.

Dennis sports an unusual abundance of amenities, including 16 town beaches on Cape Cod Bay and Nantucket Sound, many freshwater ponds, two public golf courses, the Cape Playhouse summer theater and adjacent Cape Museum of Fine Arts, and the year-round Tony Kent Arena (star figure skater Nancy Kerrigan's home ice). The 25-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail, built along the former New Haven Railroad line to Provincetown, begins in South Dennis near Route 134. And all five villages in the 20.6-square-mile town have cozy libraries. The Dennis and Dennis Port branches have major expansions underway.

PETER J. HOWE

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